Elizabeth Clarke, executive director of the Juvenile Justice Initiative, recently penned a column titled “Closing Juvenile Prison Makes Sense.” In the piece, she makes the following important points about Illinois juvenile prisons:
Illinois currently runs eight separate far-flung juvenile facilities to house an average of less than 1,200 youth. These eight facilities are costly. The average annual cost per bed has rapidly risen from $70,915 five years ago to an estimate of more than $90,000 this year. The per bed cost at the Murphysboro youth prison, which the governor plans to close, is far above average and climbed to $142,342 per bed in FY10. Operation of each facility entails significant administrative costs as does collective oversight and management of the eight separate facilities.
If each of the eight facilities ran quality programming with successful results, there might be justification for continuing their operation. The facts, however, are dismally opposite. Reports document a juvenile prison system that is ineffective, with over half the youth returning to juvenile prisons within three years. Most facilities struggle to maintain minimal educational programming, let alone adequate mental health treatment, recreation or vocational classes.
On September 8th, Governor Pat Quinn announced that he would recommend closing IYC-Murphysboro this fiscal year. This is a good start but we believe that many more youth prisons can and should be closed too.
It’s time for the citizens of Illinois to make a forceful case for closing more youth prisons in the state. We invite all those who are interested in this topic to join us for a teach-in about closing Illinois youth prisons:
Saturday October 29th
1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave
(Congress Lounge, 2nd floor)
We will be joined by Chris Bernard of the John Howard Association who will share important information about each Illinois youth prison including capacity, condition, and cost.
Click HERE to download a flier for this teach-in.
This teach-in is organized by Project NIA and is co-sponsored by the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation at Roosevelt University.